Posts Tagged ‘fiscal conservative’

The latest rumors surrounding Rep. Mike Pence are that he is considering stepping down from his House Leadership position shortly after the mid-term elections in order to prepare for a run at either the presidency or the Indiana governorship.  Politico notes Pence, “he has made a number of high-profile stops all over the country, including most recently in Florida, Minnesota and Wisconsin.”

Mike Pence: While some argue Pence would face significant challenges in either race, it seems obvious to me that the hurdles to overcome in a presidential run are far greater than those that would face him in a gubernatorial campaign.  This is not to say, however, that Pence shouldn’t run for President.  I happen to think Pence brings some real strengths to the table.

Primary opponents are likely to argue Pence has no credibility as a fiscal conservative because he took earmarks until 2008.  This is an argument with more emotional than logical appeal.  A lot of people (myself included) who don’t really care for most of the government’s social programs nonetheless take advantage of them because the system has been set up in such a way that we currently cannot make ends meet without them.  This doesn’t mean we can’t be honest proponents for a new and better structuring of the nation’s fiscal house.  Similarly, if the best argument that can be levelled against Pence is that he took some earmarks, that seems pretty weak.  I’d want to know precisely what the nature of the earmarks were.  Was he building bridges to nowhere, or studying the mating habits of turtles…or were these earmarks that went to more productive, job-producing projects?

Furthermore, who else is going to have a stronger fiscal record than Pence? Romney passed proto-Obamacare in Massachusetts…Huckabee practiced a state-level version of Bush’s Big Government Conservatism in Arkansas…Palin was a sometime proponent of the earmarks in Alaska.  In contrast, Pence “led the unsuccessful opposition to Bush’s elephantine Medicare bill.” The only two people with “street cred” greater than Pence on fiscal matters would be Ron Paul and Mitch Daniels, both of whom are likely to have a very difficult time winning the support of the important social conservative base in the Republican Party.

While campaign funding is likely to be one of the early weaknesses of a Pence campaign, he is likely to have an advantage in the critical area of volunteer passion and enthusiasm.  As the Wall Street Journal pointed out, “Pence has come to occupy an unusual niche over the past two years. He’s one of the few Washington political leaders who’s won widespread support among tea party activists.”

While it’s vogue in some circles to argue that Republicans have to surrender ground on social issues in order to win.  (Nevermind that it’s quite an odd strategy to secure victory by completely abandoning your base.)  I tend to think that America has not so much turned against social conservatives as it has turned against fakes and opportunists.  Against people who advocate for (or against) social issues only for political gain.  Pence gives every indication of being a down-the-line conservative who both capable of and willing to fuse the social and fiscal strains of conservatism into one coherent bloc.  Consider these words from his speech at the Values Voter Summit:

Now I know some say that Republicans should stay away from such issues this year…that the American people are focused on jobs and spending and our movement would do well to stand aside, bank the win and return to fight after this fiscal and economic crisis has passed, but we do not live in a world where an American leader can just focus on our financial ledger. A political party that would govern this great nation must be able to handle more than one issue at a time. We must focus on our fiscal crisis and support our troops. We must work to create jobs and protect innocent human life…To those who say we should focus on cutting spending, I say ‘Ok, let’s start by denying all federal funding for abortion at home and abroad! Stop funding research that destroys human embryos in the name of science…We must not remain silent when great moral battles are being waged. Those who would have us ignore the battle being fought over life … have forgotten the lessons of history. As in the days of a House divided, America’s darkest moments have come when economic arguments trumped moral principles…Men and women, we must demand, here and now, that the leaders of the Republican Party stand for life” and to do so without apology.